Last week I reviewed my favorite Moop bags, and this week, I bring you an inside look at Moop. What a thrill when Wendy, the creative, ethical woman behind Moop agreed to an interview! The Moop studio is in Pittsburgh, where every elegant bag is designed and hand crafted out of gorgeous, durable, ethical materials. All images provided by Moop.
Can you describe a typical day? What routines frame your days, even if the day’s work and play varies?
Clyde, our studio kitty, moved to my house when we made our studio move, and he relentlessly chases our house kitty, Mouse. So, I’m usually being roused by them around 4:30 each morning to tell them to knock it off!! and crash back to sleep until my alarm goes off at 5:30. I don’t consider myself a morning person..sometimes it is truly painful to get up at that hour, but that is when my day must begin at this stage of life. My daughter and I run around getting ready for the day, packing lunches, fixing breakfast, feeding the kitties, letting the chickens out for the day, turning off every light in the house (seriously, how does every single light get turned on each morning?!) and heading on our respective ways. I have a long commute right now, so I listen to a lot of audio books on my drive to the studio each morning. It’s a good time to try and calm my thoughts before the rush of the day begins.
My work days at Moop are fairly predictable and usually pretty busy. They center around production, shipping, email, marketing, customer service, etc. I have to be very efficient with my time. Being a working parent means your kids schedules are often controlling your schedule. So, once I arrive at the studio, I’m not usually making lunch dates or taking walks in the park. I’m working until I have to head out for the day and more often than not am eating my lunch while answering emails. That said, I love the days when I get to schedule photo shoots and work on new designs. Open studio time is something I have to work hard to get. It’s an important part of the creative process, but as Moop has grown, that time for me has diminished. The balance between daily production, administrative work, and creative inquiry is something I’ve been trying to restore and getting closer to getting back.
This post provides a terrific glimpse at the values that frame your work. Can you talk about how your values grew or deepened as your business grew?
Moop began as an extension of my studio practice as an artist. I had finished grad school (an MFA in photography) and wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to make a living with the degrees I had earned. It took me a while to find the value in the expensive education I had received as an MFA will not exactly help you get a job. But what I didn’t realize in those moments was how much an MFA was going to create my job…rather, how I would create my career because I had gone through the rigors of an art education. You learn a lot of things that don’t feel very quantifiable – I still believe I received the most varied education because of the route I chose. Learning to make things paired with a desire to have a career in an era where the internet exists is really a pretty remarkable place to be. Building a life around a process of making was something I had always wanted. It is now what I have earned by doing the work that I do. It has not been a piece of cake. It has been years and years of long long hours, lots of trial and error, and pounds of perseverance.
Achieving that goal has made me even more committed to the value of a life built around making things. It does not have to be physical, tangible objects – but, approaching what you do with the purpose of making something fantastic will apply to how you operate in your career and your personal life. Making personal connections is the core of making things. And, personal connections are what move us through life in happy, healthy, productive ways.
Why make bags?
I didn’t really begin with a business plan to find the thing that had the highest retail demand…I had made a few bags for myself and began making them for other people. It turned out I was pretty good at it, so I kept making more. There’s not a very scientific reason behind it. I have always carried tote style bags because they are so versatile: they hold up to my sloppy lifestyle, I can drag them around, over fill them and replace them when they’re all worn out…I usually carry one bag until it dies, then replace it with another. I don’t really accessorize with jewelry; instead my bag was always my accessory. Turns out there are a lot of people like me who want a minimalist functional style that’s not covered in branding. That’s the niche where Moop bags fit.
Will you talk about your design process? One of the things I love about Moop bags is that they transcend trendiness—the essence of elegance! How do you achieve that? What matters to you as you design? How do you match designs to fabrics?
My process is pretty organic. My first Moop design was The Market Bag. The second was a small messenger bag. Every subsequent bag has come from a variation of those two originals. I had the foundation of shape and build techniques and started working over the details. For me, I try to design our bags so everything has a function (for instance, you’ll not see decorative buckles or useless chains). If there is a top flap, the closure system needs to be functional and the flap needs to be covering something useful, like a pocket. Function and a minimalist aesthetic matter most to me. I like our bags to be versatile so, my color palette tends to be neutral. I love grays and browns and that’s mostly what you’ll see in the Moop collection. Aside from the occasional special edition, which might have a punchy color. Currently, our Backpack no.2 in Magenta is filling the role.
What are you going to be excited about in the next few months?
Our studio relocation has been one of the biggest transitions in the last few weeks so, we’re taking some time to get settled before we release anything new…though, I did recently find an amazing special waxed canvas that I’m working up some designs for!
Thanks, Wendy, for your inspiring responses! I can’t wait to see what you do with that special waxed canvas! To learn more about Moop, visit the website, follow them on Twitter or Instagram, like ‘em on Facebook, or see what they’re up to on Pinterest.